Ilana and Martin Gerschlowitz are an ordinary middle-class South African family – young, newly married with bright, promising futures. Ilana falls pregnant and gives birth to David, a happy, healthy baby boy. At 10 months old, David suffers recurring ear infections, and at 11 months old a terrible fever sends him to hospital. David’s behaviour abruptly changes – he no longer looks at his parents, his motor and budding language skills disappear, and the light in his eyes dims. It is the beginning of a journey with autism that few parents would ever want to encounter, and yet a staggering number of children are now diagnosed with autism, and the number of diagnoses rises every year.
Ilana and Martin work tirelessly to understand David’s autism diagnosis, and to search for ways to treat their son. The couple arrange an international autism conference, open a treatment centre for autistic children, and begin outreach programs for underprivileged families dealing with autism.
Ilana falls pregnant again and their third son, Aaron, develops normally. And then the unthinkable happens – at 16 months Aaron develops ear infections and they decide to insert grommets. Immediately after the procedure, they realise that Aaron is not behaving in his usual manner. Within days, it becomes clear that Aaron, too, has developed autism, and their journey begins afresh. Armed with the knowledge gained from years of treating David, the couple set about ensuring that Aaron’s condition is treated swiftly and carefully.
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